The French announcement followed FIFA’s meeting with the International Football Association Board (IFAB), in Zurich on Saturday (1 march), in which the world’s football governing body reversed the ban on players wearing headscarves for religious reasons during football matches.
“Regarding the participation of female French national team players in international competitions on one hand, and the organisation of national competitions on the other, the French Football Federation reiterates its duty to respect the constitutional and legislative principles of secularism that prevail in our country and feature in its statutes,” said the French football governing body in a statement.
FIFA lifts head covers ban
After a two-year trial period that started in 2012, the IFAB agreed that there was no indication as to why the wearing of head covers should be prohibited.
The sport’s lawmakers approved the modification to the interpretation of ‘Law 4 – The Players’ Equipment’ specifying the provisions by which male and female players can now wear head covers.
“It was decided that female players can cover their heads to play. Male players can play with head covers, too. It will be a basic head cover and the colour should be the same as the team jersey.” said FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke.
FIFA banned the wear of head covers in 2007 for considering that it posed a risk of injury to the head or neck.
In December 2011, FIFA’s Executive Committee agreed to put forward a proposal to amend the rules following a presentation of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) vice president Prince Ali Bin Hussein of Jordan on the safe use of head covers in football and calling for the overturn of the law.
“It is very important that everybody has the chance to play the sport that they love and obviously the laws of the games have to be amended to allow that,” said Prince Ali in an interview at the time.
Pakistan and Afghanistan welcome the news
In Pakistan and Afghanistan sports officials have welcomed FIFA’s ban lift, saying it will allow more Islamic girls to take up the sport.
Rukhsana Rashid, the captain of the all-women’s Dia club in Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh, said the move would help the sport to grow.
“I want to pay my gratitude to FIFA because this will allow female players from remote areas to take up the game because their parents were not allowing them without their head covered,” she said.
In Afghanistan, Mohammad Yousuf, a senior official of the country’s Football Federation, said the decision “shows respect to the culture and religion of others. This is respect and tolerance and we in Afghanistan welcome this.”
“If it was not allowed, this could be a problem for Afghan women and for the women in the Islamic world in general,” he added.